Washington, September 24 : The Department of Homeland Security in the U.S. is testing a body scanner for its efficacy in reading people's mind, an approach that can make it easy to nail terrorists who can wreak havoc.
The scanner called MALINTENT is the brainchild of the cutting-edge Human Factors division in Homeland Security's directorate for Science and Technology.
It searches a body for non-verbal cues that can be used to predict whether one has plans to harm one's fellow passengers.
The system may catch such signals as terrorists and criminals may display in advance of an attack by reading people's body temperature, heart rate and respiration.
The sensors do not even require any physical contact to carry out such tests, a reason why it is also being hailed as an X-ray for bad intentions.
Homeland Security recently conduced a field test in Maryland, scanning 144 mostly unwitting human subjects.
While the 144 test subjects thought they were merely passing through an entrance way, they actually passed through a series of sensors that screened them for bad intentions.
The department also selected a group of 23 attendees to be civilian "accomplices" in their test, each of whom was given a "disruptive device" to carry through the portal. Unlike the other attendees, they were conscious of being on a mission.
Before carrying out the tests, DHS had to meet rigorous safety standards to ensure that the screening would not cause any physical or emotional harm.
As to how the system works, the department has revealed that it transmit warning data to analysts as the sensors identify that something is off, and the analysts then decide whether to flag passengers for further questioning.
The next step involves micro-facial scanning, which involves measuring minute muscle movements in the face for clues to mood and intention.
Homeland Security has developed a system to recognize, define and measure seven primary emotions and emotional cues that are reflected in contractions of facial muscles.
Identifying such emotions, MALINTENT relays the information back to a security screener almost in real-time.
The entire security array - scanners plus screeners - is called "Future Attribute Screening Technology" (FAST) because it is designed to get passengers through security in two to four minutes, and often faster.
Experts behind the project insist that even if a person sweats heavily by nature, the system will not mistake him/her for a baddie.
As regards privacy issue, the department would delete all data regarding a person examined after the test.
"Your data is dumped. The information is not maintained - it doesn't track who you are," Fox News quoted Bob Burns, MALINTENT's project leader, as saying.
Though FAST may also incorporate biological, radiological and explosive detection, the primary focus is on identifying and isolating potential human threats.
Its developers believe that the system could be set up at entrances to stadiums, malls and in airports to make it very difficult for terrorists to carry out attacks.